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Mama, gardener, teacher, photographer, faffer with paint and colour

Monday, 13 February 2012


For all non locals this is how life and death can be in our lovely bubble of a village! The village turned out in forest colours for the burial of Thomas.We gathered at a place called Barefoot Barn, a beautiful place high on the hill used for yoga sessions and similar meditative events normally. It is lined with pale wood and its light and warmth and massive floor to ceiling windows make you want to dance around or lie and bathe in the tranquility.Thomas was to be buried in a felt shroud made by Yuli Somme who lives in the village.You can see her work here. They are works of art and really comforting to look at as they are like cocoons.Thomas' was decorated with oak leaves.
The barn was packed with people, from babies to Great Grannies. A harpist also from the village played amazing angelic music.Thomas' cocoon was in the centre of the room.We sat, looking at his body, albeit covered in layers of felt, as family and friends talked about how he had touched their lives. Babies and children wailed or whizzed around on the shiny wooden floor, including Thomas' lovely daughter who wandered around, smiled at the crowd and asked a few people for "Juice please". One child asked "Is that his bag? Is he in that bag?",much to the parent's blushes. I was similarly thinking how bizarre that the person I knew was in there, I am sure there were many thinking the same. I have felt his spirit strong for weeks since his death but now there was a quietness, a body thats all and the love for the spirit that used to be there.It was good to laugh and cry with a common bond of respect and love for this man who it seemed never turned people away was open and above all kind.Open and kind and loving he had drawn all these people to him.Quite something.

We left the barn and processed through the village led by Morris Dancers with blackened out faces.We were a motley crew, bedecked in forest colours, warmed by roaring torches aflame. A beat was sounded with the wooden staffs of the dancers and we followed. A few people came out of the offices, I thought they were just having a cigarette then realised with a bit of self reproach that it was a mark of respect.

Thomas was to be buried on the hill opposite were he got married several years ago. He was carried by the strength of his family and friends, resting at stops on the way as the road up the hill is steep. At the entrance to the land on the hill we were welcomed by a sharp February wind that made no compromise, you can see by the tree stakes in this photo!
Cleansed by burning sage and drawn onwards by a clarinet. We slipped on through the mud into the field.

The wind whipped away some of the talk by the grave, but the pile of earth next to it was a sight to ponder on.Thomas had always wanted a sky burial ( me too) but even our hobbit town is not able to provide that yet.Some people had made crows and birds of prey as a substitute to fly him on his way.They fluttered and flapped up the hill and then hovered as we put handfuls of soil in the grave.

Someone commented that his burial would be added to the stories of the past and it felt like that.Treading familiar routes of our ancestors where death was not sanitised and distant but right there in your face for you to wonder at and deal with.Where loved ones, not religious strangers spoke highly of the deeds of a person that they knew and missed and music played from the heart not a cd player was the lament of all. Simple and beautiful craft clothed him and would return him easily to the earth, not a box of hardwood that quite literally would cost the earth.His view is of rough moorland fields and trees, and he will have children play next to his grave, learning how to track animals that he cherished. I love this place, bubble or not, I am glad to be a part of it. Fly well Thomasxxx


  1. beautiful- what a wonderful way for a community to say goodbye to a friend.

  2. Thanks Sarah it really was as beautiful as a goodbye gets.I can't find out which Sarah you are,and I am really curious who is reading all these ramblings!Let me know who you are all you readers!xx

  3. Bubble or not, this is beautiful. What a way to celebrate his life. X x

  4. I can't remember how I came across your blog, towards the end of last autumn, but your words felt familiar and your life well-lived. What a wonderful natural and loving goodbye you all gave Thomas.
    As to who I am - just someone living a limited life, enjoying hearing about the natural world and its rhythms from someone who can actively honour them.

  5. @Jeanlu and Anonymous,happy to share it with you and anyone who wants to listen....I think such times are rare in our Western dealings with death,felt privileged to be a witness.

    @Jeanlu limited life how? Just curious.

    1. Longstanding ME - I fortunately live in a house overlooking a small green valley on the outskirts of a market town in Somerset but cannot visit the wider natural world, which I miss. Hence my enjoyment of your honest and gentle love of the natural rhythms, which I can and do still honour in small ways. But I so miss being able to visit the wilder places. I am lucky though - lots of lovely trees around.
      Thank you for your curiosity!x

  6. Thank you Rachel, for your lovely words about Thomas and the farewell ceremony that we made for him.
    Time has become rather elastic since Thomas died - stretching out and snapping back with a sharp smack - and I was astounded to realise this week that we managed to organise the funeral for Thomas within two weeks of his passing. Those early days were such a haze that it is amazing that the burial day was so right and moving. It only worked because so many people stepped in to help - the Courtyard Cafe folk organising the feast that many friends prepared, musicians from far and near playing through their tears, Rima doing the artwork for the order of ceremony booklet, our dear friends and family digging (and filling in) the grave and carrying Thomas from the Barn to the hill, Roger and Claire offering up the Barn for our gathering, Jeremy and the Regenco folk offering the burial place, the Morris sides for turning up and adding imeasurably to the sense of occasion and of course Yuli making the beautiful leaf cocoon for Thomas. Many more people contributed - too many to list! So thank you all for this and for your continued love and support.
    I learned so much that was good from being a part of bringing up Thomas and having the adult man very much a part of my life - and now I am learning again that love and care for each other are all around us and so important.
    I'm off now to make lunches, dig the ground and change nappies. Thanks for the hugs.
    Philippa x

  7. @ Philippa,
    You are an amazing woman. I am happy for you, that you and Lunar and Ember will continue to be held with love in your community .It will be beautiful to see the effects of your relationship with Thomas and his relationships within the community continue to ripple outwards.Hugs are always availablexxx

  8. Just found this, Rachel, from Yuli's blog. Will add a link to it from my post. Beautiful words; just right. Thank you. xx

  9. This too. You write so right. Thank you for loving that man; for seeing his special wonder. Love to all of you. xx